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Are Health and Disease Related Articles Linked to Causing Them?

Update Date: May 10, 2013 03:19 PM EDT

For the majority of people, reading about health, diseases, and conditions can be both educational and interesting. Unfortunately for a small group of people, reading these types of articles could lead to the development of the same symptoms described in them. The study, headed by Dr. Michael Witthvft from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, discovered that a select few from the population might suffer from a 'suggestible' trait that leads them to develop symptoms after reading an article about some dangerous condition. Although there is no actual biological or external basis for their symptoms, they still occur and afflict the individual.

The researchers recruited 147 participants and showed them different television reports. One group of test subjects watched a BBC documentary about the possible dangers that being exposed to mobile phones and Wi-Fi signals had on health. The other group watched a clip about the Internet and mobile phone data and whether or not these media outlets were secured. After the reports, the groups reconvened and were exposed to fake Wi-Fi signals that they believed were real. After the experiment, the researcher noted that even though there was no actual radiation exposure of any kind, some of the participants developed symptoms characteristic of Wi-Fi radiation exposure.

Over half of the participants stated that they developed anxiety as well as a loss of concentration and tingling in their arms, fingers, toes and legs. Two participants asked to leave the experiment due to the severity of their symptoms. Not surprisingly, the participants that watched the BBC documentary reported higher severity levels of their symptoms. The fact that people thought they felt radiation, but were never exposed to it is known as the phenomenon of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

'There is a considerable body of evidence that electromagnetic hypersensitivity might actually be the result of a so-called 'nocebo' effect," Witthvft said. 'The mere anticipation of possible injury may actually trigger pain or disorders." Witthvft and his colleagues concluded that even though there is no biological basis for the symptoms, these symptoms could affect overall health.

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